Ramjas issue escalates into war of words between BJP, rivals

Ramjas issue escalates into war of words between BJP, rivals
A war of words erupted between the BJP and the Congress-Left parties amidst hundreds of university students and teachers taking out a protest march against ABVP today as a row over free speech gathered pace.

The BJP claimed that the Congress and the Communists were "disturbing" the atmosphere of varsities and "supporting anti-nationals".

The Congress and the CPI(M), however, alleged that it was the saffron party which was "curbing" the freedom of speech and "unreasonably" imposing their ideologies on others.

"They (the Congress and the Communists) are trying to create disturbances in universities because they have been rejected and failed on the political front. They are trying to encourage separatist forces by sympathising with them.

"The policy of the Congress and the Communists have been hard on nationalists and soft on terrorists. That was their policy and that is what they are pursuing," BJP leader and Union minister Venkaiah Naidu said.

Hundreds of students and teachers of Delhi University, JNU and Jamia today hit the streets in the national capital with a call to "save" the varsities from the "onslaught" of the RSS-backed ABVP and "curbing" of dissent".

The protesters, mainly comprising students of Left forums like AISA, shouted slogans like "ABVP Go Back" and "Azaadi" as their march made its way through the roads of DU's North Campus towards the Arts Faculty building.

"They (Congress and Communists parties) criticise ABVP, RSS but they do no criticise ISIS, ISI, SIMI... they do not condemn them at all. Now they are speaking a language which is music to the ears of Pakistan," Naidu alleged.

The students who took out the march also expressed solidarity with an Army martyr's daughter Gurmehar Kaur who allegedly got rape threats for her campaign against the ABVP after her social media campaign against the organisation went viral.

Stating that there must not be objection to nationalism but to separatism and terrorism, Naidu alleged, "Those people who have been thoroughly defeated and failed in political field are disturbing peace in a systematic way in varsities.

"We have seen the problem in JNU where Afzal Guru's anniversary was being celebrated. Similarly, calling people who have faced sedition charges in Ramjas College aims to disturb the campus atmosphere," he said.

Attacking the BJP, the Congress alleged that after a note ban, the Narendra Modi dispensation wanted to impose a ban on freedom to think independently. "Now it is 'zuban-bandi' and 'soch-bandi' (a ban on speech and thoughts)," Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala alleged.

"You have no right to think, you have no right to speak and you have no right to dissent. I don't know how far they say you have no right to live except in accordance with the norms set up by this government. Perhaps let's hope that the day will not come," he said.

The Congress leader said the universities and the colleges would never accept the culture of beating up of teachers, the use of violent means against fellow students as a way to settle scores and the language of threat and abuse to everyone who disagrees with the BJP and the ABVP. "This is neither India's culture nor our tradition," he told reporters.

Echoing the opposition sentiments, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said, "... it is a simple fact that no body can dictate to any Indian what to do, what to eat, what slogan to shout. This is not our constitution provides for all Indian citizen."

He alleged that "one organisation" was trying to "impose its ideological positioning". "Since they can't do it with reason, they are resorting to violence and terror, that has to be opposed by any democrat," he claimed.

Countering the allegations, BJP leader and Union Law Minister Ravishakar Prasad said, "... those who are seeking to fire their own guns through her (Kaur's) shoulders, have they ever criticised those responsible for her father's sacrifice."

"I can only tell you gently all those who are now seeking to reiterate their freedom we respect them but the way they have campaigned in a reckless, merciless and shameful manner against Narendra Modi in last 14 years were also well known," he added.

Violent clashes were witnessed between ABVP and AISA last week after an event at Ramjas College was cancelled following activists of the RSS-backed students' wing objecting to JNU student leaders Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid participating in an event.
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